Robert Fripp - guitar; Greg Lake - vocals, bass; Ian McDonald - woodwinds, mellotron, vocals; Michael Giles - drums
This is the final night of King Crimson's first U.S. tour featuring the original quartet lineup, on a night that they were the openers on a bill with The Nice and The Chambers Brothers.
This set captures the original band at its absolute peak. Following the introduction, the group opens with the signature song from their first album, In the Court of the Crimson King. The dynamics of this song move from quiet introspection to an absolute wall of sound, with the mellotron and Greg Lake's vocals blending to create music both majestic and creepy.
A song the band never officially released, "Drop In," is up next, with its nod to the Beat poets and a jazzy overall feel. This show's arrangement of "Pictures Of A City," a song that was destined for their second album, again displays an extraordinarily high level of musicianship and is notable for now having another verse that was absent on the Fillmore East version at the start of this tour.
"Epitaph" is fairly close to the album arrangement, but "21st Century Schizoid Man" features a significantly different guitar solo than other versions on this tour. Fripp's unique approach is well represented here, and on this song in particular the sheer power of the ensemble is staggering. King Crimson was known for upstaging many popular acts of the time period, and this set is another prime example.
Rare for an opening act, the San Francisco audience demands more and following a brief intro by Fripp, Michael Giles begins the 5/4 repeating pattern that begins Gustov Holst's "Mars." This tempo, evoking the martial rhythm of field drums, slowly builds in intensity. As the other musicians begin playing this repeating pattern, it gets progressively more aggressive and menacing. At the point where the anxiety factor is reaching an almost unbearable level, the mellotron begins playing demented improvisations over the rest of the group.
This show would not only conclude the first American Tour, but would sadly be the last gig ever played by the original King Crimson lineup.
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